Twin TowersToday marks the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, that toppled both towers of the World Trade Center in New York, left gaping holes in the side of the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, PA, and cost the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans.

What started out as a beautiful fall Tuesday morning in New York City quickly turned ominous at 8:45 EST as hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, setting it ablaze on the 80th floor.

QuotesInitial reports were that it had to be a terrible accident. But 18 minutes later, when another hijacked 767, United Airlines Flight 175, flew directly into the south tower, everyone knew it was no accident. The United States was under attack.


An hour later, a third hijacked plane – American Airlines Flight 77, a 757 loaded with fuel for a cross-country flight – crashed into the west side of the Pentagon, killing 125 people inside and all 64 passengers and crew on board. The death toll could have been higher but that side of the building was under renovation, leaving many of the offices vacant at the time of the attack.

Meanwhile, a fourth plane – United Airlines Flight 93 out of Newark, NJ – was hijacked shortly after takeoff and was on a collision course with an unknown target in the DC area – unknown because the passengers stormed the cockpit and fought the terrorist hijackers until the plane crashed into a field outside Shanksville, PA, killing all 45 passengers but saving countless others at the intended target.

QuotesAs smoke rose from all three sites, America faced a new challenge: How would the country recover in the aftermath of the first terrorist attack on home soil?

WTC1The United States has always shown resilience in adversity, and the days, weeks, and months following September 11 were no different. Everyday activities resumed, baseball and football seasons picked back up after a brief pause, and the country got back on its feet. Makeshift memorials went up across the country. Soon plans were made for permanent memorials at all three crash sites. The damaged Pentagon was repaired and the memorial opened on September 11, 2008. Preparations began for a memorial in Shanksville, with phase one dedicated on September 10, 2011, and a permanent memorial and museum honoring the World Trade Center victims opened exactly ten years after the attack, on September 11, 2011, on the site where the twin towers originally stood.

QuotesIn what many consider the strongest sign of American resilience, the new 104-story One World Trade Center opened in 2014, soaring high above the Manhattan skyline at a symbolic 1,776 feet tall, making it the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

September 11, 2001: We will never forget.